Frank Chickens, a legendary Japanese punk pop performance group with a cult following in the UK, were founded in London in 1982 as a duo with Kazuko Hohki and Kazumi Taguchi, but the group has now expanded to more than 20 members. They were John Peel‘s favourite, had an independent chart hit with “We Are Ninja”, had a Channel 4 TV series: “Kazuko’s Karaoke Klub”, won the Foster Comedy God Award, released five albums and toured worldwide. “Their live performances delight audience with idiosyncratic choreography, quirky humour and explosive energy – a feast of wit and visual extravagance.” Recently they have become the power behind Ura Matsuri – the festival showcasing ESA (East And South East Asian) artists in the UK.
Their music is influenced by pop, punk, and traditional music particularly Japanese Minyo (folk songs), Okinawa music and Enka.
Frank Chickens initially found fame in the late 80’s scoring a chart hit with the classic single “We are Ninja – Not Geisha!”. They were regulars and favourites of DJ John Peel, recording several radio sessions for him and appearing in his Festive 50. Frank Chickens had their own TV series on Channel 4’s Kazuko’s Karaoke Klub in 1989. In 2010 thanks to the comedian Stewart Lee’s drunken late night internet rant Frank Chickens found themselves the unexpected but deserving winners of The Edinburgh Festival Comedy Gods Award.
Frank Chickens toured the world including WOMAD festival in 1983 in ICA and, in Bristol with Drummers of Burundi, Anti-Apartheid concert in Napoli with Red Wedge with Billy Braggs and Paul Wellers, Glastonbury’s second stage for 20,000 audience, Northern Ireland tour with The Smith, Australia‘s Sydney Trade Union Club, The Limelight club in NY, Tsubaki House in Tokyo, the rock festival in Kazakhstan, The Royal Opera House, Cafe Oto, The Royal Festival Hall, Barbican, Club Duckie at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern and Latitude Festival.
The group is still going strong, collecting most talented misfits from Japan (and the UK). Members throughout the years have included Atsuko Kamura, Aika Yamazaki, Akari Mochizuki, Akiko Sato, Azusa Ono, Caitlin Hogan, Chika Nakagawa, Dror Shohet, Eriko Kurasawa, Harumi Tanaka, Hibiki Ichikawa, Issei Kaneko, Jacob Peterson, Kana Makin, Kinue Kato, Keiko Yamagami, Kuba Nowak, Masayo Aizawa,Masaaki Sagara, Maki Omori, Nao Nagai, Ray Hogan, Ricca Kawai, Rica Minami, Saneyuki Owada, Steve Nice, Sayuri Kamiya, Shoko Asaga, Stephany Pochet, Tatsu Ozaki, Tomoko Minamizaki, Tomomi Sayuda, Tomoko Komura, Toshiko Kurata, Yoko Nishimura, Yuko Obata, Yuko Tsubame and Yumi Hara, and many many more…
In 2019, We Are Ninja was re-released in Japan from Jet Set label.
In 2023 Funny Smell the compilation from Guerrilla Record will feature Tokyo Bougi by Frank Chickens feat Yokolele.
Since 2016, Frank Chickens has been organising an annual festival “Ura Matsuri “ to celebrate the hybrid culture of immigrants in the UK who mixes thie heritage with the UK culture. This festival headlined the digital version of Japan Matsuri (annual Japanese festival in London presented by Japan Embassy) in 2020 during the lock down. They have staged the 5th Ura Matsuri at St Margaret’s House in November 2022.
“the excellent Frank Chickens…witty and irreverent Japanese popsters” Time Out
“great CD’s from Planet Japan…the appealingly Frank Chickens” Robert Wyatt
“challenging stereotypes, blending pop with Japanese sensibility” Victory Review, Australia
“wildly surreal…an unforgettable experience” South Wales Echo
“She’s right aff her heid” Glasgow Evening Times
Web links to Frank Chickens works:
Live performance videos:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9SHEYAyGaQ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uf_vBrwaylc https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jqxxSEy4_M
Frank Chickens Discography http://www.kazukohohki.com/frank-chickens-discography/ Frank Chickens: The Movie (2012) https://vimeo.com/50599115